Flowers to Fairford - 22 March 2003

On Saturday 22 March, 2003, Fairford welcomed several thousand people for the Flowers to Fairford demonstration against the US led attacks on Iraq. Parking was provided in local fields, and the Fairford Playground appeal laid on refreshments. Demonstrators were invited to bring flowers 'For the death of our democracy - for all the victims of the biggest preventable tragedy in history'. They came from all around the country as well as other parts of Europe and the USA, and of course Fairford itself.

Not all the people who wished to visit were able to, as coaches from London were stopped by police at Lechlade, a nearby town, and searched. Even the contents of their sandwiches were investigated. All placards and marker pens were confiscated and after being held for 2 hours the coaches were sent back to London. Two third age ladies managed to escape the police and hitchhiked to Fairford to take part in the rally and one of these, Pat Arrowsmith, was able to give us a magnificent speech. Buses from nearby Swindon were also prevented from attending.

Interesting and factual speeches were given by Green MEP Caroline Lucas, writer and green authority George Monbiot, Richard Byrne from voices in the wilderness and Joe Letts who has driven double-decker buses through Iraq and the Middle East in support of the people of Iraq. Mark Thomas was as entertaining as ever, as was Thom Yorke of Radiohead. Particularly moving speeches were provided by Valerie Lucznikowska of September Eleventh Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, reminding us amongst other things that Iraq was not involved in the attack on the World Trade Center, and by Ann Pettit who laid a wreath for Rachel Corrie, the brave American who was recently killed by Israeli terrorists while defending Palestinian families.

In a particularly petty gesture, an American helicopter arrived and positioned itself above the speakers in an attempt to drown out their voices, but this left a few minutes later. There was no other unpleasantness to spoil the day.

In Fairford we often make comments about never seeing a police officer in the town, so the 1000 police who were drafted in for the day were quite a shock, as you can see here.

Fairford has the largest USAF bomber base in Europe, which is currently being used by 14 B-52 bombers. Iraq is led by a hugely evil dictator, Saddam Hussein, who although now considered an enemy was originally armed and supported by the USA and Britain, and was supplied with anthrax and other biological weapons by current US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. The current attacks are part of the 'Project for the New American Century'. The demonstration was organized by Gloucestershire Weapons Inspectors. If you object to the arming of dictators you may wish to visit the Campaign Against Arms Trade.

There have been allegations that peace protestors are unpatriotic, but many speakers pointed out that it is more supportive of our troops to bring them home out of harm's way than to expose them to death and possible Gulf War Syndrome 2.

Music was provided by Seize The Day & Baka Beyond and the Rinky-Dink & Lardy-Dar cycle powered sound systems.